Wednesday, December 30, 2009

November & December

November's random acts of kindness ended up being a really positive month. I left notes for waiters and waitresses when I thought the service was excellent, I tried to be less of a Masshole when I was driving, I made an effort to smile at strangers I passed on the street, but most of all, I spent a lot of time making handmade cards and gifts.

As for December, I had originally intended for it to be a sort of wild card month. I was either going to repeat a month I really liked, or try to combine a few different months into one. But when Caribbean vacations, birthdays, and holidays got in the way, I ended up taking the month off. In reflecting on the year though, I've definitely noticed that I've kept bits and pieces of each months challenges, so I guess December wasn't too far off from my original intent. More on that later...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Corporations and Random Acts of Kindness

I read this in an issue of Budget Travel and thought it was interesting:

"Getting an unexpected upgrade can hook you on a place–and that's the motivation behind Hyatt's "random acts of generosity" initiative (yes, it's an initiative), announced in May. The company's CEO told employees to occasionally tear up guests' bar tabs, comp massages, or dole out some other out-of-the-blue treats."

I know the primary motivation here is to hook customers and drum up more business, but hey, I still think it's pretty cool.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

I would say that in general, people hold things in more than they let them out. We mostly think of this in terms of negative emotions, the person who bottles everything up, only to explode once they’ve reached their breaking point, but lately I’ve been thinking of it in terms of the positive things that we hold in as well. How sometimes I want to write my favorite musician a note about how much I enjoyed their show but I tell myself not to bother. How sometimes I’ll think a friend is doing something really great or inspiring but I don’t say anything. Or even simple things, like not complimenting a stranger when I like something that they’re wearing. What is the root of this repression? Does is all boil down to fear of a negative reaction?

Being an inherently shy person, it’s always been a struggle for me to put myself out there. It’s only in the past few years (this blog being a great example) that I’ve begun to focus less on what others think and more on my motives. To me, if your intentions are positive then there’s no reason to be shy. I mean, how many times have you received a surprise note from a friend or a compliment from a stranger that made your day? Everybody likes being the recipient of these actions so why do we hesitate to be the giver?

November to me is all about not holding these things in. It’s about getting them out and just putting as much positive energy into the universe as possible. Like other months, I’m aiming to do one thing per day, so by the end of the month I’ll have tallied up 30 “random acts of kindness”.

This month has also encouraged me to revisit the idea of paying it forward, a concept introduced to me by my friend Rebecca a few years ago. I’m sure most of you are familiar with it to some extent, but the basic gist is to do a favor for another person–without any expectation of being paid back.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I hope everyone will be inspired to be uncomfortably honest and unnecessarily kind to everyone you encounter.

p.s. I’d love suggestions that anyone has for random acts of kindness, ie. paying someones toll on the highway, etc.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Green October

A few months back, I posted a link to Green as a Thistle, a blog run by Canadian journalist, Vanessa Farquharson. For one year she made a different green change in her life everyday. Some of the changes were small, like switching to natural cleaning products, but some of them were much larger, like giving up her car and refrigerator. I was inspired by the concept after reading an article about her in my most favourite magazine Body + Soul and decided that the idea would lend itself well to The Twelve Months of Lent. So, I've come up with 31 ways to make my already pretty green lifestyle even greener. A lot of the changes are inspired by Vanessa's, some of them came from Body + Souls going greener guidebook, and a few are just ideas I had on my own.

Here's my list:

1. Do not purchase any single serving bottled beverages.
2. Make all my bills ebills.
3. Read by candlelight at night instead of turning on the lights.
4. Switch to cloth napkins.
5. Find a better solution for plastic litter liners. They probably make biodegradable ones, right?
6. Unplug the computer when I'm not using it.
7. Shower with the lights off in the daytime.
8. Switch to CFL lightbulbs. I'm kind of embarassed that I haven't done this already.
9. Use only natural products to clean the house, like baking soda and vinegar.
10. Fill the tea kettle with the exact amount of water I need.
11. Reuse one glass and one mug all day.
12. Carbon offset air and auto travel.
13. Put a bucket in the shower while the water is heating up. Save the water and use it to water plants.
14. Take the stairs.
15. Be strict about turning the lights off when I leave the room.
16. Try Good Search instead of google.
17. Wash clothes in cold water and don't use the dryer.
18. If I need to purchase something, try to buy used.
19. Shave my legs in the sink instead of the shower.
20. Ride my bike or walk to the grocery store instead of driving.
21. Switch to Luna Pads and the Diva Cup.
22. Use cash instead of credit and debit cards to minimize receipts.
23. Buy recycled and biodegradable trash bags.
24. Use glass instead of tupperware and stop using plastic wrap entirely.
25. Don't let the water run while I'm doing the dishes.
26. Get a working composting system in order.
27. Stop using paper towels.
28. Try to cut shower time in half.
29. Don't buy fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic or styrafoam.
30. Donate things I don't want anymore to a charity.
31. Reduce junk mail

The general gist of "going greener" seems to be to reduce your consumption, reuse what you can, and recycle the rest. Here are a few facts I came across that will hopefully encourage everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle more:

In 1995, Americans generated about 208 millions tons of garbage; 12 years later, that number rose to 254 million tons, with the average person producing nearly five pounds per day.

According to EPA estimates, we could recycle as much as 75 percent of our trash.

In finding ways to make my life greener, I realized that the concept was referencing some previous lents: reducing waste, eating locally, etc. I hope this month will be a good way to get back into some habits that I haven't kept up with.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stash Sistahs

Before we left for our cross country journey, Jess and I were joking about how Jess and Danne sounded like dude names and how we should make some fake stashes and wear them around. The joke quickly turned into reality and Stash Sistahs was born.

Here are a few gems:

Monday, August 31, 2009

September Suggestions

For those of you who don't know, I'm hittin' the road! I'll be flying out to Portland, Oregon later today and driving cross country with my friend Jess for the first 2 weeks of September. I did have a challenge planned out for September, but it's not very adaptable to travel so I'm looking for suggestions. Anyone have any good ideas? Do something I've never done before each day? Ask a stranger for their life story? What do you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Culinary delights!

I know this isn't a blog about cooking, but this month has been all about cooking for me, and I love it. Usually when I go to the grocery store, I have meals in mind and I buy the necessary ingredients. During local month, I've been venturing out, getting whatever looks good or intriguing.

Thursdays are "fresh fish day" at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square. I bought haddock, yellow carrots, and collard greens. Then I went to the farmers' market in Kendall (loved it) and bought little red potatoes (with the dirt still on them!) and homemade honey pesto. I also ate some homemade local burnt sugar ice cream. It was heavenly. I made an awesome meal with my findings: haddock with honey pesto, roasted yellow carrots and onions, sauteed collard greens, and scalloped red potatoes. So fresh, so lovely.

I've been yearning for fish tacos all month, so I stepped outside the local boundaries a bit. I bought catfish at the South Boston fish market, a lime and an avocado (not local!), fresh tortillas at Fresh Tortillas (the Asian Mexican restaurant in Southie... they made them right in front of me... fantastic), and, ready for this? I got a head of cabbage, 2 ears of corn, 4 tomatoes (2 heirloom), an onion, an eggplant, and a jalapeno pepper for $4.50 at the Southie farmers' market. My eyeballs almost popped out of my head when the guy told me how much it cost. So cheap! I mixed my own Cajun seasoning since I didn't want to buy the pre-made one (equal parts salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, celery salt, garlic powder, and onion flakes) and rubbed the catfish with it, then pan-cooked it in olive oil. I roasted the jalapeno pepper to make it a little milder and mixed it with onion and tomato for a simple pico de gallo. Shred the cabbage, mush the avocado, slice the lime, heat the tortillas... I also like to make a hot sauce mixture which may sound gross but it's delicious with the tacos: a couple of spoonfuls of mayo with a whole bunch of hot sauce (I'm partial to Cholula). I love condiments, what can I say? Then assemble the tacos! Tortilla, Cajun catfish, hot mayo, avocado, cabbage, pico de gallo, spritz of lime, side of corn on the cob... soo good. I'm really impressed with the tortillas from Fresh Tortillas. I'm sure their ingredients aren't local, but the novelty of having them cook them right in front of my face is really special. Made with Asian/Mexican love!

Yesterday I sliced my little eggplant and laid it out in a casserole dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Baked it at 375 for about 35 min probably. Then I layered eggplant slices with sliced heirloom tomato (a green and pinkish red one) and drizzled the stack with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I cannot even believe how tasty it was. My mind was blown. The simple flavors melded together into one gorgeous, magical taste. I sound like I'm being dramatic, but it really was a phenomenal little meal.

And today! I had leftovers from the tacos, so I made corn/avocado salad. One ear of corn (cooked and cut off the cob), half an avocado (cubed), a small red tomato (diced), a handful of shredded cabbage, the juice from 3 lime wedges, a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. I ate it with a heated leftover tortilla, and it was so good! Once again, simple, but incredibly tasty. The tomato was quite possibly the best tomato I've ever eaten, and I bought it for probably about 25 cents at the Southie farmers' market.

Speaking of tomatoes! My plant finally has a few little green babies growing. They are only the size of dimes right now, but they're undeniable! Also - I signed up today for the Dogma box from Boston Organics. My sister is moving in tomorrow (yay!!) so we're going to share the local produce delivery. I ordered extra carrots to put my new juicer to good use.

I love eating local food. I don't want to stop. So I won't.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Boston Globe Magazine published an article that speaks out on the negative aspects of the local diet. Umm forgive me, but I see no negatives here. I only read part of the article so far because I'm too heated to read it all right now. The educated comments in response to the article made me feel better, but I can't help thinking of all of the people out there who will read it and take it at face value instead of recognizing the faults within this man's line of thinking.

Take a look at the article here and comment away!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Magical, Domestic August

I love eating locally! I was inspired to be all domestic two weekends ago and baked bread, made pickles, and hung laundry washed in natural lavender detergent on the clothes line. How delightful!

Also - Danne, Tim, and I visiting a lavender farm on Cape Cod a couple of weekends ago. It was pretty magical:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week 2, I Love You

Um, Jenny and I went to the farmers market at Harvest Co-op in Central today and I went mental and bought everything. Not only did I purchase a ton of delicious looking vegetables (including a skinny, twisted eggplant and black tomatoes), but I got a blueberry turnover from a local bakery and homemade cranberry lavender lemonade. Best find of the day though? Ambrosia tea from The Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA. Field trip anyone?

After the market, we headed over to Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville where I purchased black pepper fettuccine and local soft ripened cheese.

I'll be eating delicious and local for a mere $50. I love this month.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Eating Local – Week 1

The months that have been the most habit altering (detox month, no trash month, etc.) seem to take a little longer to ease into than the other months. I'd say that it takes a week or so to really get into it and figure out what you're doing. Week 1 has been just this for me: the week to figure out what I can and can't eat, what I can get and where, and also just to finish up a few non-local perishables that I have in my fridge from last week that I don't want to go to waste.

My biggest observation so far has been that you have to go out of your way to eat local. I wasn't able to make it to a farmers market so it was a bit of a struggle to find food in the grocery store that was native to New England. I was especially disappointed when I went to Russo's the other day and discovered that about 95% of their produce wasn't grown anywhere near New England. As I've probably obsessed to many of you, Russo's is my most favourite supermarket ever and I love it times 10,000, but really, do you need to get your tomatoes from Canada? The only local produce I could find was zucchini and summer squash. It just doesn't make sense that with such an abundance of farms in this region that we should have to import so much from other parts of the world. Week 1's lesson learned: Don't rely on supermarkets for the rest of the month, the farmers market is where it's at. I even went as far as to make myself a chart of the days and times of all the farmers markets in the Boston area (thank you unemployment for unlimited free time to do things like this).

Some other notable things this week:

Amanda and I went on a really awesome and very helpful local food hunt. We found out some great information like:

At City Feed & Supply in JP you can get veggie burgers from Maine, JP made tofu, and local honey. They even have tags that list where all their food is from and include the miles that it took to get to the store. They make it so easy!

The Dairy Bar in Somerville has tons of local dairy including: milk, eggs, butter, ice cream, whipped cream, and lots of different kinds of cheese.

Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville is amazing and in addition to a million varieties of homemade pasta, we found peanut butter made in Cambridge. Horray!

I found out that Not Your Average Joes is having Local Fest this month so it looks like I'll actually be able to go out to eat! Does anyone know of any other restaurants that serve local cuisine?

My container gardens are doing really great and I'm looking forward to eating some home grown white eggplant later this month.

Lastly, does anyone know where I can find local: crackers, wraps for sandwiches, soy milk and tortilla chips?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The 100 Mile Diet

After a few slow months, I think we'll be very busy blogging in August. While I did actively participate in June's "Write Down 30 Things You Want to Do and Do Something Different Each Day" and July's "Contact Someone You Don't Speak to on a Regular Basis Every Day", there hasn't been too much to report. I had a few gratifying moments from each month but overall they didn't feel like too much of a challenge. I'm very excited for August which might turn out to be the biggest challenge thus far: The 100 Mile Diet.

I'm just finishing up reading, The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon which stemmed from their widely publicized blog. The philosophy is simple, the couple decided to eat only food grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment. The book chronicles their journey through this difficult but rewarding year and definitely makes you really think about where your food comes from and about the benefits of eating locally and seasonally.

Since I've become more interested in eating locally anyway, I decided that making this into a Twelve Months of Lent challenge would be perfect. Starting August 1st I'll officially be a Boston localvore.

Although I plan on being as strict as possible about this, I am going to set my own parameters to make it bearable. What I've determined so far:

1. I'm extending the 100 miles to include all of New England.

2. All produce must be grown in New England (omg, no avocados).

3. All dairy and seafood must be local.

4. I can use spices and oils that are already in my pantry.

5. Alcohol should be local but I'm not going to be fussy about where they grow their grains or grapes.

6. Bread. Oh wow, what do I do without bread? Is there a local flour source? Half of me wants to say that I can eat bread as long as I make it myself or buy it from a local bakery, but the other half wants to be really strict and say unless it's local grain then I can't have it at all. For now I'm going to try to seek out a local source and I'll cross that bridge when I get there if I can't find one.

7. I'm allowing myself 5 local-free meals, meant to be used for things like my Nana's 90th birthday party, dinner parties with friends, and times of desperation when I'm starving and nothing local can be found.

I'm sure more things will come up but for now, he's a list of resources that I've already found:

Boston Localvores Blog

Boston's Local Food Shed

Harvest Co-op

City Feed and Supply

Brattleboro Food Co-op

Boston Organics' Dogma Box

Definitely comment and share your favourite local places if you have any!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I fell off the wagon, but I'm climbing onto it again

I haven't posted in a very long time and it's because I've been doing a rather poor job of following the challenges lately. Who wants to think about failure? Not me! But I suppose I do have some things to report.

I believe my last post was in May, which was "create no trash" month. I had my first experience with composting, and it was pretty awful. I bought a little plastic scrap bucket for the kitchen and kept meaning to buy a larger bucket for my back porch but didn't get around to it for... about a month. Meanwhile, the food garbage in the scrap bucket began festering and growing black mold and other sorts of creatures. I eventually threw out the entire bucket because the contents were so heinous, there was just no going back. I finally bought a large bucket in the beginning of June and have since been composting more intelligently, with a nice ratio of green to brown matter. It's not nearly as terrifying this time around.

I did not complete June's challenge of "30 things". To date, I think I've done about 1/3 of the items on my list. When I was thinking of things to do, it was rather haphazard, and throughout June my list kept evolving. I lost interest in some items and added others halfway through the month. June also ended up being the busiest month in the history of man. I played field hockey and softball (my team won the championship, woo!), volunteered a lot, went camping/canoeing, cooked a veggie burger inside of a waffle... life was crazy. At one point I was feeling guilty about June so I spontaneously got a pedicure and had my tarot cards read. I felt worse afterward because I spent too much money and all I had to show for it were toes I could have painted myself and a fortune that said I'm going to meet my fair-skinned German soulmate in three months' time. A worthwhile June endeavor: I planted my tomato seedling that I grew from a seed. Check this beauty out:

Now July! July is contact 31 people month. I've been doing alright with this challenge which I owe largely to luck. It just so happened that a few people on my list kind of fell into my lap and I was able to see them in person without much effort at all! What a dream. I wasn't doing as well with my July list recently, but I contacted... drum roll please... six people today! Only two of them answered the phone, but hey, baby steps. I also took a nice walk today around Castle Island and bought lunch at the food hut I've been meaning to try. Cheap and tasty! I was fat and happy.

It has definitely become apparent that the most successful months are also the most challenging ones. The most rewarding times are the times where I alter my lifestyle in some way for the better (i.e. vegan detox, pick up trash, create no trash). I am therefore excited to unveil the new, improved August: consume locally month! How provocative! Danne has done a bunch of reading about the 100 Mile Diet, where you don't eat anything that has travelled farther than 100 miles to your plate, so we are going to give it a shot. I'm definitely ready for a challenge again!

Oh, and Tim and I signed up for the Mud Hog Race in New Hampshire on August 8th. It should be a blast if any of you want to come cheer us on! What is a Mud Hog Race, you ask? Why, it's a 6-mile running/biking race with a 60 foot mud pit you crawl through to get to the finish line, of course! Our team name is Check Out My Mudstache! It should be quite fun :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Race Is On

June hasn't been going exactly as planned. This months challenge is to write down 30 things that you want to do and do something different from the list each day. I don't know about everyone else, but June has been the busiest month of my entire life. I had to stay late a bunch of nights for work, I went to a ton of shows, my Project M application was due, my new photo class started and it's two nights a week instead of just one, etc...So, what I'm getting at is that I've barely done anything from my list.Now that things have died down a bit though, the race is on to cross as many things off as possible in the next week. Just today, I made muffins from scratch and wrote some Yelp reviews, there's two right there! A few other things from the list that I hope to get to this week:

-Play monopoly
-Do yoga
-Infuse vodka with fruit
-Finish designing Sondra's Etsy banner (i mean it this time Sondra!)
-Go to Bluegrass night at the Cantab Lounge
-Cross stitch
-Buy a Spare Change newspaper from the guy that has been selling them outside of South Station every day since I started working at Neoscape.

and you know what, I'll just keep going through the list all summer. I'm ok with taking my time for this one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learn from my mistake...

Do not wait 2.5 weeks to empty your kitchen compost bin, and if you do, don't open it inside the house:


Seriously, I just made this mistake and the whole first floor of my house smells like baby poop mixed with puke. Wow, sorry roommates. I have learned my lesson.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Recycling and Composting 101

I learned a whole lot yesterday about recycling and composting, and rather than expecting you to click on tons of links, I've been encouraged by Danne to write a real post. So here you go!

I read a bunch of accounts of what works and what doesn't when it comes to apartment composting, and I decided I'm sort of going to wing it. I'm putting two lidded plastic containers (perhaps trashcans) on my back porch, and a small bin in the kitchen. I'll put some holes in the bottom of the porch containers and rest them on slats in trays. Once the kitchen bin is full of scraps, I'll dump it in the first porch bin. When that's full, I'll fill the second porch bin. I'll turn the contents approximately once a week. Hopefully by the time the second bin is full, the first will be soil-ish. I'll use some of the soil for my own plants and give the rest away to... someone.

A lot more can be composted than I originally realized. You can obviously add fruit and vegetable scraps, but you can also compost bread, pasta, beans, rice, paper towels, hair, nail clippings, q-tips (not the plastic ones), dryer lint, vacuum bag fillings... The list goes on. It is advised that you don't add meat or dairy products unless you have a really successful compost pile going. These products attract pests and often cause unwanted odors. It is important to have "brown matter" in your compost as well as "green matter". Green is the food garbage. Brown is sawdust, dead leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard. The ratio should be about 60/40 green to brown. Also, in order for the waste to break down efficiently, everything should be cut in little pieces. And so begins my adventure with composting! Wish me luck!

On to recycling! So many more items can be recycled than I ever knew. This month is about avoiding the consumption of items that prove wasteful, but also figuring out how to dispose of waste properly. I found solutions for some problem items: plastic bags, lids, and #5's. Plastic grocery bags can be brought to a number of locations to be recycled, found here. You can bring other kinds of plastic bags too! These include:

  • Retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
  • Paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap
  • Plastic newspaper bags
  • Plastic dry cleaning bags
  • All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4
  • I read somewhere that you can include ziploc bags as long as you cut off the zipper part (that's a different type of plastic).

Aveda is helping to build a new recycling program for rigid plastic lids and caps. So now you should save all of those water, gatorade, soda, peanut butter, mayonaise, ketchup, shampoo, lotion, and laundry detergent caps, and bring them to your neighborhood Aveda store. And! #5 plastics are rarely recycled by local recycling centers, but Preserve's Gimme 5 program has placed bins for these hard-to-recycle but very common #5's in various Whole Foods locations. You can even recycle old Brita filters, woop woop!

I read a fun list of things you can do with cardboard boxes instead of tossing them in the recycling bin. You can make a self-composting compost bin, build an armchair, build a house, make an egg incubator to hatch chicks, or plant column gardens (Make a column with cardboard, soil, and gravel, and plant leafy vegetable seeds in slits cut in the cardboard. Your veggies grow sideways out of the vertical surface instead of straight up from the ground. Awesome!).

Reading all of this information and watching the video on Green as a Thistle inspired me to put a full water bottle in our toilet tank to save on water each flush and sort all of our recycling according to the new things I found out. We now have separate spots for lids/caps and for #5 plastics. Oh, and I joined Freecycle!

Side note about deodorant: Tom's of Maine's deodorant package is composed entirely of #5 plastic so it's recyclable (unlike most other deodorants whose dials are something that can't be recycled). Deodorant is something I'm struggling with a bit because, let's face it, I sweat a lot, so I prefer a strong antiperspirant. I have a big problem with putting those chemicals directly onto my skin every day though, so I switched to Tom's. Tom's just isn't cutting it as far as odor resistance and sweat stopping go, though. The Green as a Thistle girl said coconut oil is a great deodorant, so I might give that a try. Why not, right?

Okay, that's all of the information in my brain for now. Yay, no trash!

One last thought, please drink water and coffee out of reusable bottles and mugs. It's really just silly not to.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May's Challenge: Be Trash Free

I'm excited about this months challenge, I really am. So far the months that have been the most rewarding are the ones that are the most difficult, and not only is not making trash difficult, it's pretty much impossible. Since I work full time and am not able to go at this 150% (i.e. making my own bread to avoid food packaging) this month seems like it's mostly about consuming less, recycling or reusing everything you have to consume, and composting the rest. I already make an effort to limit my consumption (I have dishes, silverware, and hand towels at work to avoid the disposable versions), and I'm an avid recycler, but there's still a lot of questions I have, most pertaining to what can and can't be recycled. I did a bunch of research this afternoon and here are some resources that I found that will be helpful to anyone participating in this months challenge:

-First of all, a friend sent this blog to me a few months ago. I went through a good portion of it today and I definitely encourage anyone who wants to go trash free to check it out: They have a ton of really great and informative posts.

-From that blog I came across this article that answered a lot of questions I have about recycling:,21770,1835098,00.html. A few things I learned: Bottle caps (plastic and metal) are not recyclable and neither is plastic cutlery. If you try to recycle a pizza box that still has food remnants in it, it can ruin an entire recycling batch. Packing peanuts are not recyclable, but you can take them to a number of facilities that will reuse them. It seems like most anything can be recycled, but just not tossed in your recycling bin. Lots of things need to be sent to a specific facility.

-I didn't look too far into this site yet, but it seems like it could be useful:

-This blog isn't specifically about not making trash, but living more green in general:

Some changes that I've made already:

-We are composting at home and I even have a container at work to put food scraps and tea bags in.

-I'm making an effort to purchase food with the least amount of packaging possible. To prepare for this month and get an idea of how much trash I produced on a regular basis, I kept a trash journal all last week. I'd say about 95% of all garbage was food related. If I were a package designer, I would be pushing my company to consider more sustainable options. Is it really necessary to sell pre-cut, individually packaged apples? Do we really need frozen pb&js?

-I'm saving things like bread bags and reusing them.

That's all for now, I'd love to hear if anyone has any great tips for reducing/reusing/recycling. I need to figure out what to do with cat litter too. Has anyone had good luck with alternative litter options?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Litter is lame! Happy No-Trash May!

I can't believe it's May already! 2009 is flying by. The fact that we have assigned a different challenge to each month probably has something to do with it. As the end of each month approaches, I start thinking about what I have to do for the next month. In most cases so far, I'm looking forward to the next challenge. May is no exception, but I must say, this task is rather daunting. No trash?! Eek!

I really really liked April. It's amazingly gross how much trash there is, and as Danne said in her most recent post, once you start looking for trash, you realize it's everyyyyywhere! I feel really awful if I pass by a piece of litter without picking it up, and this is definitely a habit I will keep up from now on. Yesterday, for the last day in April, I went to the beach in Southie and picked up as much trash as I could within a 2 block stretch. I set out to go for a long walk and pick up trash along the way, but there was so much litter, I needed to narrow my scope. As is the case pretty much everywhere I've been picking trash, the most common items were water bottles, coffee cups, beer cans, cigarette packs, scratch tickets, and lids. So many damn lids. Lids to coffee cups, soda cups, and plastic bottles. If people would only drink coffee and water out of reusable containers, we would have so much less litter.

Littering is a matter of laziness and thoughtlessness. People who litter do so because it appears to be easier to drop trash on the ground than to wait and put it in a trashcan. Or they don't want to make a mess in their car so they make a mess in the environment instead. They don't think about the consequences. I wish there was a way to make everyone collectively realize that littering is a big deal, it's harmful, and it's lame. You are a huge loser and everyone looks upon you with disdain if you litter. I mean, do these people do the same thing in their houses? Shit, the trashcan is all the way in the kitchen. I'll just drop this Dunkies cup here on the floor.

The best way to combat litter in an immediate way is to place more trashcans around the city. There's a park near my house that has only one trashcan at the far corner of it, so of course people don't want to walk across the park to throw things away. The cleanest areas of the city are the ones that have trashcans on every block (and probably also have hired help sweeping up trash). Adding trashcans would help with the grossest trash, by far, the poop bags. Ya know, plastic bags with dog poop inside? Ughhhh sick! That plastic bag is preserving that poop. The poop would be much better off in the open air where it could disintegrate and eventually wash away or decompose into the ground. If there were more trashcans, people wouldn't have to walk as far with a bag of poop in their hand, and they'd be less likely to leave it on the ground. Think about all of those poop bags out there on sidewalks and in landfills. Sick. Maybe when someone buys a dog, that scenario should be brought up. "Tell me, what would you do in this situation? Your dog shits on the sidewalk, and there are no trashcans in sight."

Sorry I just complained about dog poop for so long.

So now it's May! I'll be grocery shopping mostly at the Harvest Coop in Central Square, and I've already started a little compost pot in my kitchen (my roommates are using it as well, which is awesome). I have to figure out what the heck to do with the food scraps after that point, though. I don't have a yard for a compost bin. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I really like Philly. Restaurants that give you the option to add vegan beef to your tacos, happy hour, murals everywhere, a year round indoor farmers market, great shops selling local artists work, a frozen yogurt place where you choose from a million flavors and toppings and then pay for it based on the weight, really, it's pretty cool here.

But the litter! Oh man, I've been here a number of times before, but now that my litter radar is super sensitive I'm noticing how bad it really is. I probably picked up a hundred pieces of trash so far today and that was in a two block radius. If I had stuck to my original goal of picking up every piece of trash I saw, I'd be fucked.

It's interesting because I've made some observations about the differences in the litter here compared to the litter in Boston. There's definitely just as much addictive trash (cigarette butts, empty booze bottles, coffee cups), but there's a ton of food trash here too. It really looks like people just rip open the package of everything they eat and throw it on the ground. And not only is there a ton of food trash, there's a lot of random trash. Empty lots will be filled with toilets and old tvs and other random household items. In Boston, you just don't see that. Apparently in Philly, anything goes.

Another observation I made is that there's definitely a shortage of trash cans here. In the downtown area and around the UPenn campus in West Philly where we were today, there were trash cans on every block, and in turn, less litter. In South Philly though, once you get passed South Street, it's impossible to find a trash can, and because of this (and probably a number of other reasons), there's litter everywhere. Philly needs more trash cans! Obviously everyone should take personal responsibility for the trash they create, but since this is an improbability, at least make it easy for people to throw stuff away. Even the convenience stores around here don't have trash cans in front of them. No wonder there's food trash all over the place!

I really think the root of the problem is that people just don't care. There shouldn't have to be public trash cans, if you have something you need to throw away and you don't see a trash can, bring it home with you and throw it away there. Know what I really want to know though? I always see signs on the highway that say that there's fines for littering but how often are people really penalized for it? It'd be amazing to stick a few police officers on the streets here and have them handing out citations. Maybe if it were strictly enforced people might be a little less inclined to litter. Who knows...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Litter Karma

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were picking up trash in Downtown Crossing on the way to Fajitas & Ritas. After finding the millionth losing lottery ticket on the ground in front of 7-11, we decided that the best thing to do was go in and buy one. What happened next? I WON A HUNDRED BUCKS! YES! I'm pretty sure it was litter karma rewarding me for all the trash I've been picking up all month. Win!

More later, I'm on a press check for the next two days and am trying to get some thoughts together for Delitter Bugs.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I've been picking up a lot of bad habits this month...

Thank God I don't live on Mission Hill right now. When I was in college and living in Jamaica Plain, I used to walk to MassArt along Huntington Avenue and it never ceased to amaze/disgust me how much litter covered the street in that area. Really? I mean, people really think that it's ok to just throw their trash on the ground? I can't even imagine eating fast food and then throwing my trash out the window, but people do it all the time! Why! Apparently, they've never heard of the trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean, or even worse, they have and they just don't care. Why don't people care? It's beyond me...

My ranting aside, I've actually been enjoying April's challenge much more than I thought I would. At first I felt kind of uncomfortable being seen walking around with a bunch of garbage in my hands, but pretty quickly I stopped caring. I haven't experienced any negative comments or stares, and it seems like people are more curious than anything else (although no one has stopped me to ask what I'm doing yet).

What's been really interesting is finding patterns in the litter that I pick up. The biggest conclusion I've drawn is that people with a bad habit, i.e. littering, usually have a bunch of other bad habits to go along with it. Honestly, 90% of that trash that I've found falls into the category of "Addictive Trash": empty cigarette cartons, vodka bottles, scratch tickets, and Dunkin Donuts cups. What's I've seen the most of though is cigarette butts. Somehow, there's a common misconception that tossing your cigarette butt on the ground isn't littering, but in reality, they aren't biodegradable, and even worse, two billion are thrown on the ground every day. I've already established that I'm not picking them up this month. I'd never make it anywhere on time if I stopped along the way for every one I found.

Soon I'm going to post about DeLitter Bugs, a project that Amanda and I came up with a few months ago. We're still hammering out the details so I want to wait to post until we've really figure it out. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My March

As most of you probably know, I had to abandon my goal of rock climbing this month. I managed to injure myself in the most embarrassingly stupid way and my dreams of becoming a cute rock climber girl were crushed (only for the time being though). It's a bummer but it's definitely something that I still want to get into, so to all of you that I had climbing dates with, stay patient! I still want to climb with you! But moving on...

So, what have I been doing all month instead? March turned into a "do all those little things you've been meaning to do" month. I've been working on my logo, spending time in my studio, getting in touch with old friends, finally using the yoga gift certificate Tim got me for my birthday in 2007...just stuff like that. Although it's not as structured as the other months have been, it feels really great to finally be crossing some things off my gigantic to-do list. Whether you notice it or not, all those little things take up space in your mind and it feels pretty freeing when you can release them. It's been a sort of mental detox which is the perfect follow-up to February's physical detox and a nice compliment to January's journal writing. They're all connecting!

So, all in all a really positive month so far. I will say that I'm a little nervous for April and being the weird girl carrying around a trash bag everywhere I go. I'm going to have to come up with some parameters so it can be feasible. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I apologize to our eager fans for not writing sooner.

I have so much to say that it's all getting jumbled in my brain, but here goes...

February was a very positive month for me. Since I'm unemployed, it was much easier for me to cook all of my meals than it was for Danne and Tim. I also didn't have as many temptations since I don't leave the house as much, ha.

Some February events that stick out in my mind:

Vinny visited from NYC for the Shepard Fairey exhibit at the ICA. That actual event was, honestly, a little bit awkward without alcohol as a catalyst. I needed some damn soda water but even that cost $3 or something silly. BUT Saturday night, Tim/Danne/Jenny/Vinny and I ate vegan Korean food, played the $5 surprise present game, enjoyed delectible Newman-O's with soy milk, and took turns telling stories about our lives before knowing each other. What fun! And Sunday, wow, Jenny made a vegan brunch that blew my face off.

Rick's "going away" party at Noir was way fun, even without alcohol. Tim and I went, drank soda water all night, and made wonderful new friends (Hi Lisa!). We ate late-night falafel, talked about swans, and slept over at our new friend Doug's house. By the way, weird sleeping arrangements always happen when I hang out with Tim or Danne. Not the two together, but when I'm just with one or the other of them.

My friend Jen was my valentine and she wanted to bring take-out to my house for dinner. The poor girl had no idea what to get for me since my diet was so limiting. She had to have a custom salad made with ingredients from a "safe" list I told her.

One day I was getting pretty stir-crazy, had been in my house for too long, and I asked Tim if he wanted to hang out since Danne was going to dinner at Grasshopper with an old friend. Long story short, we decided to dress in disguises and go to the restaurant to see if Danne would notice us. So, Tim went to iParty and bought disguises (check Facebook for photos and a video) and we actually ate at Grasshopper without poor Danne even knowing we were there the whole time. It was a ridiculous prank and I really think disguises and costumes should be used on a more regular basis. Sorry for utterly creeping you out, Danne. Would we have done this any other month? Probably. But it happened in detox February.

Some observations:

Sparkling water is a great placebo. I guzzled it at the bars when I went out and ended up getting really talkative, red-faced, and goofy anyway.

Homemade honey mustard salad dressing is quite yummy.

Vegan baked goods are just as good as ones with milk and eggs. Go ahead, someone try to fight me on this. I'll make you the fluffiest, tastiest little vegan cupcakes you'll ever eat.

Sober time with friends is incredibly rewarding. Drinking time is always fun, but let us not forget how great it is to enjoy each other's company without the addition of alcohol.

What I missed the most was seafood, which is odd, because I don't eat very much seafood in my every day life. Maybe my body was just saying I needed more protein? Not sure.

It's a really good thing I didn't go to Puerto Rico in February because I wouldn't have been able to eat anything at all. It is also a good thing I didn't go in April because there is so much trash there, I never would have been able to make a dent in it.

This brings me to the month of March...

I'm disappointed in myself for immediately eating/drinking worse/more than I did before February. I was in Puerto Rico from the 6th to the 14th. I ate crap, drank a fair amount, and now I feel like shit. I lost a couple pounds in February but I gained them back, and more, in PR even though we were fairly active during our stay. At the end of February, I was really thinking I never wanted to touch high fructose corn syrup ever again, I only wanted to drink occasionally, and I would still eat vegan when I had the choice. Going to Puerto Rico stomped on those plans so hard. Did I really just eat a fried empanada filled with yellow cheese? Yup. Did I really just drink four rum and cokes? Why yes, I did. So much fried food, rum, and soda. I don't even like those things much at all. But ya know, when in Rome... Don't get me wrong, I had a really great time. My body just hates me now.

In response to Drew and Tim's conversation about the satisfaction of eating meat versus tofu, I would like to say I decided to be a vegetarian (pescetarian, really) six years ago because of the toll industrial farming takes on the environment. I don't think it's wrong to eat meat and I don't have a problem with people eating meat around me; vegetarians who lecture meat-eaters give us a bad name. I believe everyone should eat as balanced of a diet as possible -- we are omnivores, after all. But everyone is different. For me, a vegetarian diet (with occasional seafood) feels right and leaves me feeling incredibly satisfied. I grew up in a household where we rarely ate red meat or pork, and only had chicken a couple of times a week. I never cared much about meat or craved it. It's funny because I'm one of the least picky eaters you'll ever meet, I love food so much and will try anything, but I choose not to eat meat. I think it's odd and unhealthy when people subsist primarily on meat, but who am I to judge really? There have been plenty of cultures that eat mostly meat and they were/are perfectly healthy, much healthier than most Americans. The problem is eating processed food (which I blogged about a while back), so yes, it would most likely be healthier for me to eat a grass-fed chicken than to eat a fake chicken patty made of soy. Have you read the ingredients on things like that? Oy.

With that said: Tim - I am really impressed by you. You had the most to give up in February and you did so well! I really respect that you are only giving yourself a few days this month to eat and drink whatever you want. I need to put some rules in place for myself again. I enjoyed the personal challenges in February and would like to make them habits. I haven't figured out a plan, but I'll let you all know what I decide to do.

My March challenge is to "learn Spanish" and it's not really going so well. I brushed up on what I already knew on my vacation, but honestly almost everyone there speaks English. Even when you try to speak Spanish, they respond in English. I had to tell a woman to speak Spanish to me! Learning the language will be an on-going process because obviously learning a language in one month is a lofty ambition anyway. I really need to buy Rosetta Stone or take a class, but both of these things cost money that I don't have.

March has transformed a bit into a sort of "say what you need to say and do what you need to do for peace of mind" month, if that makes any sense. Get things off of your chest. Bury the hatchet. Does this resonate with anyone else? I had a little epiphany at the beginning of the month. I'm a very forgiving person, but there have been a few grudges I've held onto. And I had this thought of, why bother? I always say, it's so much easier to be happy and accepting than it is to be negative and hateful. So it's time to practice what I preach, to the max! Grudges eat away at people. I don't want to be 50 years old and still complaining about something that happened to me in my 20s. I don't want to still be mad at someone who has "wronged" me. I don't want to be mad about anything. Love and be loved, right? March has been good for that so far. Clearing the air.

Okay, well I think that's everything I had to say. I'll try to post more often so I don't write a book every time I do post. Goals for the rest of March: get back on the healthy eating wagon, spend 6 out of 7 nights alcohol-free, and don't give up on Spanish. And read some damn books. Geez. And sew.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'll have an O'Doul's please - 13 things I learned while vegan and sober:

For the entire month of February, I was completely sober and didn't eat a single animal product. Here are some of the things I learned from my experience:

1. I like meat. A lot.

If there's one certainty in life, it's that eating meat is really awesome. At no point in my 25 years on this planet was this made clearer than the month of February in the year 2009.

2. Enjoying food is all relative.

Here's a thought experiment: think of your own personal food satisfaction scale, with your favorite thing to eat as being at the top, and your least favorite thing to eat as being at the bottom. Now think about how psyched you would get if your favorite thing to eat was put in front of your face... and lets also say you happen to be really hungry from being locked in some dudes basement for 3 days with no food.

You'd be pretty psyched right?

That's how psyched I was for things like beans and tofu. Satisfaction was all relative; my scale had just shifted.

When some of the only protein dense, healthy, and satisfying substances you can eat are legumes and a block of coagulated soy milk, you will still get really psyched for them, mainly because tastier things like meat and cheese aren't even an option. You train yourself to stop getting psyched for them to avoid the feelings of despair.

So, after the neurosis I had developed (from constantly turning down tasty things) wore off, I finally began to enjoy really good vegan food just as much as I used to enjoy really good non-vegan food.

3. Alcohol does ridiculously bad things to your body and mind.

I had more physical and mental energy than I've had in a long time. Not drinking rules.

4. Alcohol does ridiculously fun things to your mind.

Booze is fun, but not necessary. Sober times with friends are really rewarding.

5. Spending a whole night in a bar sober is actually a lot of fun.

While sober at certain bars, you'll end up mentally lapping people very quickly. It also immediately becomes apparent just how desperately people need to drink so that they can feel comfortable engaging in shallow small talk at the top of their lungs with their "friends" who are standing, often akwardly, right next to them.

6. Spending a whole night in a bar drunk is still a lot of fun.

I did this on March 1st... for 6 hours. It ruled. Go to the bar named "Drink" in fort point and tip the bartender Sam, he rules.

7. Eggs are so awesome.

I'm generally against lame ass internet memes, but if Xzibit pimped my ride the first line of the show would be Yo Dawg, I heard you liked Eggs...

8. David Bowie is more amazing than I ever imagined (This just happened to occur this month, it had nothing to do with my diet)

Hunky Dory.

9. Working towards long term life goals is slow going when you drink a lot.

I realized that putting energy into non-drinking activities was a lot easier when you weren't engaging in the consumption of alcohol.

10. Not drinking has beneficial effects not apparent until at least 3 weeks of being sober.

This is a true statement.

11. I'll never be a vegan.

Now, if you read number 2 you may think I might be at least open to this. Well I'm not. Health and animal safety are important to me, just not that important. Besides, I can still choose pastured grass fed beef, limit my red meat intake overall, and not permamently deprive myself of different options, all while staying healthy and choosing to support more humane ways of razing animals for slaughter. I'll provide an analogy that I've given to many of my friends already... aside from the cruelty to animals part, I sum up being vegan as similar to having sex in only 1 position. Yes, it's still totally awesome (as is eating good vegan food), but why limit yourself of all the glory's of bedroom (or out of bedroom) adventure?

12. I'll never give up drinking.

Beer is awesome.

13. Going through with this leans me towards philosophical (not political) libertarianism.

I don't think I would have done this if Free Will didn't exist.

All in all I felt great, lost weight, and learned to cook some awesome stews. I'm proud of myself, because I love meat and beer, and I think I gained some valuable perspectives and insights into my way of life. Also, aside from the obvious physical benefits the main mental benefit was the true test of my wills. I realized truly testing your will power is good for you, it's a detox of the mind, like flushing antifreeze the opposite direction through the cooling system of life. It really gets the gunk out.

28 Days Later...

I meant to post last weekend but I got caught up in the end of February, "Welcome back to drinking and eating whatever you want" festivities. So, here is my long overdue reflection on February's detox:

The first two weeks were pretty amazing. Tim and I were really great about preparing food, I was productive with my time, and I just generally felt lighter, more energetic, and more clear minded. The last two weeks? I turned into an angry, bitter vegan who wanted to punch someone when Flour had the same vegan soup two days in a row, or worse, when the soup was only "vegetarian". The bitterness started when I didn't go grocery shopping and had to rely on eating out for most of my meals (I found this annoying and unsatisfying most of the time). Then we went to a few parties with delicious looking appetizers that I had to avoid, and the kicker was when I ate the most vile calzone from TJ Scallywaggles and was in bed for two days with food poisoning (ask me for the funny barf story if you haven't heard it already).

As much as I complain, I take the blame for my bitterness. If I had kept up with cooking my own meals and preparing my own food, I would have enjoyed the month thoroughly. I got lazy, and therefore, got pissy. A few times I found myself questioning why I was even doing this at all. What was the point of avoiding all these foods if I was crankier and not even eating any healthier? What was I gaining from this experience?

Well, a few things became apparent:

1.) Soy is not a substitute for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
2.) Drinking reduces your productivity, drastically...
3.) Vegan junk food is still junk food.
4.) Drinking shouldn't be treated as a given. Some of the most valuable times spent with friends are those spent sober.
5.) A delicious homemade, vegan meal can be just as satisfying as one with animal products.
6.) Drinking is so expensive and not worth the money a lot of the time.
7.) You are what you eat. Fresh, light, organic foods will make you feel better than over-processed, pre-packaged garbage.

So, all in all, a challenging and successful month. Now on to March, which I will post about in the next few days.

p.s. If we talk on a regular basis you hear me say this all the time, but seriously, why in a city of 6.4 million people, do we only have 4 vegetarian restaurants, 2 of which have practically the same menu? Can someone please start an organic, locally grown, vegetarian restaurant?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just because a food is vegan doesn't mean that it's healthy

Case in point: Everything in the vegan snack section at Whole Foods. What a dream! Vegan blueberry donut holes! Vegan lemon vanilla cookie bites! Are you kidding me? It was my savior last week to satisfy my cravings (for whatever reason, last week I wanted to cheat really, really bad). Somehow I don't feel bad gorging on Soy Dream or a bagel with Tofutti, but honestly, is it really any healthier for me than the dairy version? I wonder how many chemicals and flavorings they need to add in to make it taste like the food that it's imitating? I wonder what the nutrient comparison is?

Moral of the story, reread Amanda's post about "In Defense of Food" and keep in mind that processed food, vegan or not, still packs in empty calories and a lot of chemicals and additives. I think next time I do a detox I'll focus more on "Not eating anything my Grandmother wouldn't recognize as food" rather than just replacing my normal diet with the soy version of it. Being a vegan doesn't mean that you're necessarily healthier. For years I was an unhealthy vegetarian and it's just as easy to be an unhealthy vegan. This week I think I need a vegan junk food detox...

But as my Dad would say, "Everything in moderation". A soy creamsicle every now and then won't undermine the healthy eating habits that I have in place 90% of the time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

missed opportunity? found perspective

i cant help but feel like ive missed out on a great opportunity this month. i would have loved to participate in february's "no substances" theme. i would have enjoyed doing this alongside people i have nothing but love for. at times, i probably could have used your support. i think simply knowing that other people are going through the same sacrifice, or situation, is an incredible feeling in itself. strength in numbers - a great byproduct of this site and a characteristic that i hope will attract other users.

the problem i had with this months task was that i really needed to take a step back and dedicate some time to committing myself to doing this. and there's a lot going on now!, much to keep track of!, and holy yikes!, like many, i have a few different buckets of what i consider substances (coffee and cigarettes in their own respective bucket, for example)...and it's a bit 'bump-in-the-rug-esque,' no? what i mean is that should you quit the smokes, you turn to another vice, and say, drink more coffee...that kind of a thing. and let's be honest, something like quitting smoking is it's own freakin aint easy.

[congratulations to me for having so many vices...yay! but identifying that alone is a positive in itself, i suppose.]

to some extent, my experience with this month's task was lackluster at best. and that's unfortunate. but that comes from a perspective of completely 'straight-edgin' out. im not sure that goal is attainable at this juncture. and while that is a shame, because a year or two ago, these dependencies were not even in existence, it's where i am, and in a way, those vices have helped define who i am.
timeline-wise? i feel i have a little way to go before i can go through the exercise of de-vicing 100%.

for the month of january, i tried going the 'pescetarian' route, and it worked well...i did it. i missed bacon and pepperoni pizza. what?! i like bacon! so in feb, ate bacon. this month, in efforts to keep many projects on track, and keep focus, i cut back on some vices, while rewarding myself occasionally with other vices (what little chemists we've all become-ill speak more to that in another post). so, did make a conscious effort to cut back on a lot, and i did. so all was not lost.

i think the idea of eliminating everything was a bit much for my brain to handle. on various occasions, after thinking about it for some time, i would think myself into a box each mind would enter into some sort of circular logic, and then short itself out.

lastly, it's necessary to give you guys a lot of credit. we all have incredibly busy schedules and lifestyles. to keep jugglin all your balls and not drop one is tough enough. but when you throw something like this in the mix, it's quite a challenge...and a worthwhile one, at that. way to be determined. props.

i edited some of the content out of this post about my opinions of eating animals and on substances in general. perhaps ill save that for another post later this month. thanks for giving me the opportunity to post to this blog. v

Friday, February 13, 2009

Long Story Short

I feel like I have some catching up to do as the technologically-challenged late comer to the 12 months of lent, so, in a nutshell...

I've come to think of 2008 as the year things fell apart.  It started off slowly, in manageable chunks at first, but as the year went on it seemed to build inertia, delivering an onslaught of shitty situations.  By October I was beginning to think I was making it all up in some sort of delusional personality disorder, fearing my job would think I was lying that I needed yet another day off to attend a wake or funeral.  By the holidays it had finally caught up with me, and I was slightly unraveled, ten pounds thinner and lacking the inspiration to get out of bed most days.  And I wasn't the only one, it seemed that almost everyone I knew could agree that 2008 had been an extraordinarily bad year.  Maybe it was a bad alignment of the stars, or maybe the universe was trying to do us a favor and compile all the bad events of the next few years into one year...I don't know, and I don't care.

When New Year's rolled around, I was shocked when I felt a strange sense of hope emerging.  I realized I had to put my foot down.  The way I saw it, 2009 had nowhere to go but up, even if it continued to throw misfortune my way, I was going to control what I could control, and make the most of that.  So I decided to make a few necessary life changes, like to stop letting selfish boys into my life (my new year's resolution was to kick my douche-bag habit), stop having certain expectations that only lead to disappointment, stop letting myself get overwhelmed and dig myself out of the hole I had fallen into, and finally, to stop talking about going back to school and actually do it.


Back in November when Danne brought up the idea of doing something different every month, I thought it sounded like a great idea, but at the start of 2009, it seemed like a necessity.  Writing everyday in January was probably the best thing I could have done to start off the year.  Did i actually write everyday?  Well, no, but even on the days I didn't write, I found myself reflecting on what I would have written about, and it turned out to be a very reflective month for me, and set a good tone for the year.  Detox February has been a dream so far.  A challenge, but something I'm glad to have done.  Since I'm already vegan i decided to nix caffeine as well, since the first thing I do every morning is turn my kettle on for a cup of tea.  I've never thought I was addicted to caffeine because I've never turned to it to wake myself up, or cure the jitters, I thought I just drank it because I liked it, and yet, I've been suffering mild headaches almost every afternoon, and craving cups of black tea.  Two affects I had not anticipated at all.  Cutting the booze has also been a great experience for me, because it's something I've never done since I started drinking a few years ago.  Like some kind of sign from the universe, at  the end of January a friend from school ended up in a bad situation that made him think about getting help for his drinking problem, and if that wasn't an inspiration to abstain from alcohol for a month, I don't know what else could be.  Like Danne and Amanda have said, when did I start drinking out of habit?  In high school and even my first year of college I was terrified to drink or experiment with any drugs due to my own family's history of substance abuse on both sides.  I started drinking cautiously when I was in college, and am relieved to discover that I have been blessed to have not inherited that tendency, but it is something I keep at the back of my mind always, and this detox has been a good practice for self reflection around this issue.  This month has been a challenge worth taking for sure!

So- January and February have been a huge hit so far...and now I'm looking forward to learning how to crotchet in March!! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yesterday I had to cheat...

Tim and I hadn't gone grocery shopping so I had to find vegan breakfast in Fort Point before work. Usually Flour (my favourite place to eat, ever) has vegan muffins but yesterday I was out of luck. I had to resort to eating at the Metro (for those of you who haven't eaten there, it's basically a glorified convenience store with less than mediocre food). I searched around for anything that didn't contain high fructose corn syrup or dairy and came up empty handed. I had to give in and eat an english muffin with jam, both of which contained high fructose corn syrup and tasted unusually sweet. F.

Other than that though, everything has been going well, really awesome actually. I love being a vegan. I'm losing weight (3lbs so far! haha), eating so healthy, cooking more, and not impulse eating. Not drinking is amazing too. I'm being productive, creative, saving money, and having solid times with friends that I remember the next day. A+.

I'm also beginning my preparations for next month which I'm really pumped about. I've enlisted my friend Cristiam as my rock climbing mentor and I'm doing push ups and hanging from anything I can find.

How's everyone else doing? Any new participants?

This is a doozy

February is great so far. I'm not totally in the mood to reflect on it yet, but I will say that I truly love vegan baking and sober, meaningful, intellectual conversations with friends. And disguises.

I finally finished In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It's rather fitting that I finished it during February. I have healthier eating habits than many Americans (especially this month), but this book makes me want to improve my diet further. This is what I've learned:

"A food is more than the sum of its nutrients, a diet is more than the sum of its foods, and a food culture is more than the sum of its menus."

Eat local, organic produce. Industrial fertilizers grossly simplify the biochemistry of soil. Chemically simplified soil produces chemically simplified plants. Crops grow faster, absorbing fewer nutrients. Deficiencies in micronutrients can cause damage to DNA which may lead to cancer.

Regarding diabetes: "Apparently it is easier, or at least a lot more profitable, to change a disease of civilization into a lifestyle than it is to change the way that civilization eats."

More leaves, fewer seeds. There is no diversity in our diet. We eat corn, wheat, and soy--seeds high in omega-6's which need to be balanced by leafy vegetables’ omega-3's. Livestock are cheaply fed seeds instead of grass, so industrial meat, eggs, and dairy are high in omega-6's. We consume 1/3 the omega-3's the Japanese do and have 4x the deaths from heart disease. Strong correlations were found between low levels of omega-3's and high rates of depression, suicide, and homicide. Some research implicates omega-3 deficiency in learning disabilities such as ADD. [When buying dairy/eggs, look for the word "pastured." When buying meat, look for "grass finished" or "100% grass fed."]

Rules to follow:
Don't eat anything your great great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.
Avoid food products with ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than 5 in number, or that include high-fructose corn syrup.
Avoid food products that make any sort of health claim.
Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
Eat like an omnivore. [The more diversity in your diet, the more nutritional bases you cover.]
Eat wild foods when you can. [2 of the most nutritious plants are weeds; wild game has less saturated fat and more omega-3's.]
Have a glass of wine with dinner.
Pay more, eat less.
Eat meals (not snacks), eat at a table, and try not to eat alone.
Consult your gut. [Pay attention to your body so you know when you're full.]
Eat slowly. [Eat less and take longer doing it; savor your food.]
Cook, and if possible plant a garden.

"As the scale increases, diversity declines; and as diversity declines, so does health; as health declines, the dependence on drugs and chemicals necessarily increases." Wendell Berry


There you have it, a condensed version of [the second half of] In Defense of Food. If any of these rules need clarification, or if you have questions, I’m pretty much an expert now, so go ahead and ask. I am devoting the remainder of February, and basically the rest of my life, to these guidelines. I can't wait to start hunting wild game.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thank you January / I heart February

Let me first say, I failed miserably in January. I think I wrote in my journal 1/3 of the time, and I'm pretty unhappy with myself. I feel guilty.


January was supposed to be a month of reflection, and it certainly has proved to be just that. In one day, the course of 2009 totally changed for me, and I'm feeling really optimistic about it. I was laid off on Monday (the single biggest day for layoffs in history, woo!) and I've decided the best way to handle this is to see it as a wonderful opportunity to do something so much better than what I was doing before. There are so many options out there! It's mind-boggling, really. I was feeling pretty lazy about life, content with going to my okay job every day, but being laid off has really changed my outlook on things. Why wait around for opportunities to present themselves? I need to make something happen. So I'm applying to grad school, finding freelance jobs, applying to the Food Project, applying to be a substitute teacher, and signing up to take the MTELs. And perhaps traveling the world for free. And kicking off our non-profit trash-picking project, right Danne?

I'm so excited about all of the possibilities... normally I like my life to be really structured, and I like to know what's going to happen. But right now I don't know what's going to happen and it's kind of an awesome feeling. I can do whatever I want! Truly.

With that said, February's challenge comes at a perfect time for me. I can't afford to go out to eat or drink, and I have plenty of time to cook all of my meals, ensuring they are dairy/high fructose corn syrup/artificial flavoring free. I need to stay motivated and focus on what I want to do with my time, so this month will be good for laying low and as Danne said, finding more innovative ways to connect with friends. I'm hoping my February diet will help me feel lighter and more energetic. And shedding a few pounds won't hurt.

So January: I may not have completed your challenge to the best of my ability, but I've come up with new challenges for myself. Thank you for the enlightenment.

And February: Yay! I'm excited for you to arrive. It's a good thing you'll be here tomorrow.


Tomorrow begins February's challenge: No alcohol, no dairy, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors. I'm pretty pumped about it.

Last year for Lent I went vegan and it turned out to be an awesome experience. The first week was a little difficult; just getting used to how my body felt and suddenly having to plan all my meals, but after the initial learning curve I felt awesome. I didn't feel weighed down after I ate, I was eating quality food, my grocery bill was less expensive, I was barely eating out, I couldn't impulse eat from the office candy bowl, was great.

There was definitely a down side too though. Going out to dinner was a bit more difficult (and everyone got sick of Grasshopper and TJ Scallywaggles pretty quickly), eating took a lot more planning, and there were some foods that I definitely missed. This year will be even tougher though because I'm also nixing high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and alcohol.

I've also previously gone sans-alcohol for Lent. I never thought that I drank that much until I consciously made the effort not to. Maybe it's just because I'm in my mid-20's, but when was the last time a friend asked you to do something that didn't involve alcohol? "Let's meet up for a drink after work", "Dinner and wine at my place". It just becomes standard for people. I mean, I love wine, but I found myself drinking it out of habit half the time and not because I really wanted to.

What I liked most about it was the things that I did instead of drinking. I felt like I was coming up with more fun and creative ideas. Like, I don't know, the time that I colored velvet art and drank tea until 2 in the morning with my friends? I started having insane amounts of fun doing the dumbest stuff imaginable and it was awesome! Not only that, I saved so much money. I kind of wanted to hurl when I tallied up how much I spent on booze in a month. Not drinking was a huge money saver and definitely a creativity and productivity booster.

So, I'm psyched. I'm getting shit done, saving money, and probably dropping 10 lbs.

Happy February everyone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January Journals

I just went through and tallied up all my journal entries for this month and I'm officially giving myself an F. I've only written 13 out of the 28 days, wtf! I knew I'd miss a few here and there, but seriously, less than 50% is pretty bad. I'm a very disciplined person with a ton of willpower so I'm pretty surprised at my poor participation.

To be positive about it though (isn't that what 2009 is all about?), I really enjoyed the writing that I did do. Some days were just free-flow thought and others had a specific topic. It forced me to vent and to put more thought into some things that I had been neglecting. Although I'm pissed at myself for not writing as much as I should have, I do plan to keep writing in February and throughout the year (I've always been a journal writer).

That's my report for January. Amanda, Jenny, any thoughts?

Next week begins an intense detox: a month of no alcohol, dairy, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors. I'm gearing up for it by spending a lot of time with Pinot Grigio and Papa Gino while I still can. It'll be a really tough month, but I think it'll be one of the most rewarding. More of February later though...